Mental health is such a wide spectrum which is what makes this room of the exhibition a similar function to mental health. Each artist has a different interpretation of mental health as well as using different mediums, these including painting, video, performance, sculpture, and installation. Using the Wellcome Collection as the inspiration, the artists have created work exploring ideas such as female mental health in history, illnesses in relation to mental health and medication and treatments for mental illnesses as well as many more.
Response to experience
In Levander’s work, made in collaboration with Makeup Artist, Jacob Kunert, he addresses a personal experience from his life, and the long term impact it has had on him. Losing his mother to breast cancer at the age of eleven, he has since felt consumed by the idea of cancer. He wanted to get closer to the feeling of having cancer, especially breast cancer, and to explore the social stigmas surrounding these illnesses. One such example being the personal importance men place on breasts and how this impacts women receiving a mastectomy. A male would never experience the loss of such an important piece of his body, one which society has built so many opinions around. The goal for the work was to portray an aspect of his mother’s experiences and to break down barriers surrounding ideas of the disease.
Today is the tomorrow I worried about yesterday
For this project Jazz has used video and sound work to look at the everyday life of those who suffer with mental health issues. They have created sixteen-minute video piece titled ‘Today is the tomorrow I worried about yesterday’. They were first intrigued by the Wellcome Collections initiative to incorporate mindfulness in schools to supply the amount of young people who suffer from mental health issues.
From here they decided to look at practicing mindfulness and gratitude for their own Anxiety. They found themselves acknowledging the positive moments in the everyday that can be overlooked due to what is going on inside.
With this they wanted to show how performing everyday tasks that would come easily to some can be overwhelming and Anxiety inducing for others. Specifically, how those who suffer with Anxiety can hide this aspect of their lives and how the actions necessary to control their anxieties are internalized due to stigmas. The artists hope is that the Wellcome Collections idea will help to further remove these for younger generations.
Stretch is about mental health, the history of the feminisation of hysteria, and mental health and illness in art. History has repeatedly demonised women for the state of their mental wellbeing whilst leaving men out of their reports and studies. The artist has created a painting that act as a window into their own personal wellbeing, by using themselves as the subject for the artwork. Mental health is diverse, with no singular type of victim, and the artist portrays this in their work through the use of stretched skin and distorted faces to convey the intense emotions and experiences of mental illness to the audience.
What’s up, Doc?
Thomas’ practice focuses on performance, sculpture, and installation, exploring themes around ritual, mental health, and relationships. She also works with drawing, photography and video to document and experiment with her practice. The audience is an integral part of her practice. For her exhibition piece she has been looking at the Wellcome Collection’s archive of health and wellbeing advertising as well as medication packaging. This later led her work to focus on ideas around self-medication in relation to mental health. For her piece she is creating an interactive installation of a shoddy doctor’s surgery using furniture and decoration to provide a set in which different participants prescribed themselves ‘Happiness’. They did this by affirming their happiness in the mirror to themselves. This ‘treatment’ is then paid for by the participants by clapping, much like how the NHS has been paid during this pandemic. The performative installation lasted five and a half hours.
From the beginning, Nulty has been looking at reflection. In a literal sense, they looked at mirrors and the simplicity of one’s reflection. They
proceeded to then also look at emotional and symbolic reflections, and how to visualise and manifest your own wellbeing within the reflection. Nulty gravitated towards water reflection, and how water can be used as a metaphor regarding mental health.
Nulty has used a smartphone in the creation of ‘Reflection undistorted.’ Inspired by Charlotte Prodger’s film ‘Bridgit,’ they wanted the footage to be raw and gritty, they did not want to portray mental health through the lenses of rose-tinted glasses. The audio then brings in that narrative between a victim and their own battles, which they feel deepens that connection between the video and the viewer.
Leave Me Here
Throughout the pandemic, Sage has tried to understand the space in which the confinement of National Lockdown has taken over the country. She has adapted her practice within the walls she has been living for the past 4 months, and it led her to create in the smallest space she could find. A cupboard, taking on the role of a studio, allowed for a therapeutic distraction from the severity of current events and its effects on her mental health. Inspired by Alice Anderson’s work, ‘Memory Movement Memory Objects’ in the Wellcome Collection, and with the use of repetition this small domestic space forms the bones of her work as she threads a ‘barrier’ between herself and the viewer, allowing her to focus on the repetitive action and how the influence of her body transforms the space, and appreciate the distance between herself and the world outside.
This work is a metaphor, a poem, or perhaps a sarcastic poster with guidance, rendering on topics of trauma, fears, nightmares. Of losing control of your life, and the lasting effects of bad decisions on your mental health. The influence of the exegesis or interpretation of dreams, specifically Islamic composition in which meanings are assigned to dreams, and other forms of literature, shine through. This work confronts the line between reality and fantasy, questioning what is considered relevant or not, in actuality and non-existence.
The Mask: Social Neglect’
Isolation. Something that a lot of people would say has impacted their personal and social life this last year. Remembering to un-mask and stay connected is very important but can easily be forgotten. This sculpture was created with the idea of how un-natural socialising in our world has become. Inspired by the ‘Being Human’ exhibition at the Wellcome Collection Museum, especially inspired by ‘a PPE Portrait Project’ by artist Mary Beth Heffernan that investigated the Ebola epidemic. The texture composition of the different layers of the sculpture indicates the social layers standing between human contact with others and how messy life can be. Made from clay the sculpture ironically contrasts the ideas of the toxic and un-natural ways we are currently living, but also reminds you that the natural human body is changing and making room for improvement and growth all the time. 30cm x 20cm x 8cm.